Golden Shells and Elegant Games of Japan


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This publication celebrates the beauty and artistry of kai-awase, the historical Japanese ‘shell matching’ game, and documents the creation of the only complete kai-awase set known to be in existence. Consisting of two large lacquer kai-oke (shell boxes) and 720 gilded shells decorated with paintings of Japanese and Australian flowers, this unique project commissioned by Pauline Gandel AC explores new mediums of botanical illustration and revived historical lacquer techniques.

Golden Shells and Elegant Games of Japan includes insightful texts on the creation of this new kai-awase set and its broader context, as well as photographs of the contemporary kai-oke and all 720 kaiawase shells in the project, created by the lacquer artist Unryuan Kitamura Tatsuo. Japanese incense games and other historical lacquer works are also examined, giving a further insight into aristocratic pursuits of the past and the symbolism of shells in Japanese art.

Publisher: National Gallery of Victoria
280mm x 220mm, portrait, 286 pages, hardback
ISBN: 9781925432954
Category: Asian art
RRP: $79.95 AUD
Published: September 2021